Soyuz and Station Hatches Closed

Soyuz TMA-16M Landing Crew Members
Soyuz TMA-16M landing crew members Andreas Mogensen, Gennady Padalka and Aidyn Aimbetov. Credit: NASA TV

At 2:17 p.m. EDT, the Soyuz hatch closed between the International Space Station and the TMA-16M spacecraft. Expedition 44 crew member Gennady Padalka of Roscosmos and visiting crew members Andreas Mogensen of ESA (European Space Agency) and Aidyn Aimbetov of the Kazakh Space Agency are preparing to undock at 5:29 p.m. NASA Television will air live coverage of undocking beginning at 5 p.m. Watch live at https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv.

The deorbit burn is targeted for 7:59 p.m. and will lead to a landing at 8:51 p.m. southeast of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan. NASA TV coverage of deorbit and landing begins at 7:30 p.m.

Follow the conversation on Twitter using @space_station and the hashtag #ISS.

Homecoming Day for Three Station Crew Members

Nine-Member Station Crew
Cosmonaut Gennady Padalka (center with red shirt) and first time space visitors (from left in back) Andreas Mogensen from Denmark and Aidyn Aimbetov from Kazakhstan will ride the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft back to Earth.

Today is homecoming day for International Space Station Expedition 44 Commander Gennady Padalka of Roscosmos and visiting crew members Andreas Mogensen of ESA (European Space Agency) and Aidyn Aimbetov of the Kazakh Space Agency. They are preparing to return to Earth in the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft at 8:51 p.m. EDT, southeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

At this time, the crew’s return is on track, and the space station teams are not working any issues. The Soyuz hatch is scheduled to be closed at 2 p.m. EDT.

Padalka handed over command of the orbiting laboratory to NASA astronaut Scott Kelly in a ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 5. Expedition 45 formally begins when the Soyuz undocks.

NASA Television coverage times for Soyuz activities are listed below. These activities also will stream online at https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv.

Here is a timeline of the Expedition 44 undocking and landing.

EDT                             EVENT

1:45 p.m.                   NASA TV: Expedition 44 farewell & hatch closure coverage
2:00 p.m.                   Soyuz TMA-16M/space station hatch closure
5:00 p.m.                   NASA TV: Expedition 44 Soyuz TMA-16M undocking coverage
5:27 p.m.                   Soyuz undock command sent
5:29 p.m.                   Soyuz TMA-16M undocks from space station
5:32 p.m.                   Soyuz manual separation burn
7:30 p.m.                   NASA TV: Expedition 44 Soyuz TMA-16M deorbit burn and landing coverage
7:59 p.m.                   Soyuz TMA-16M deorbit burn (4 minutes, 42 seconds duration)
8:26 p.m.                   Soyuz module separation (altitude 87 miles)
8:28 p.m.                   Soyuz atmospheric entry (altitude 62 miles)
8:37 p.m.                   Command to open parachute (6.7 miles)
8:51 p.m.                   Expedition 44 Soyuz TMA-16M landing southeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan

Join the conversation on Twitter @space_station and following hashtag #ISS. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/connect.

Cosmonaut Packing to Complete Record Setting Mission

Milky Way and Lightning Strike
As if the Milky Way in this photo wasn’t enough, Astronaut Kjell Lindgren captured a lightning strike from space so bright that it lights up the space station’s solar panels.

Expedition 44 Commander Gennady Padalka is packing gear inside the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft for his return home Friday with two first time space visitors. Padalka will be completing his fifth mission for a record 879 cumulative days in space.

Padalka will be flanked by visiting crew members Andreas Mogensen from Europe and cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov from Kazakhstan inside their Soyuz when they undock Friday at 5:29 p.m. EDT (21:29 UTC). They will land in Kazakhstan about three-and-a-half hours later. NASA Television will cover all the activities live, including the crew farewell, beginning at 1:45 p.m. (17:45 UTC).

The rest of the crew, which will officially become Expedition 45 when Padalka undocks, continued normal science and maintenance tasks. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly worked with a pair of tiny bowling ball-sized satellites outfitted with special gear to study fluid physics. He was later joined by cosmonauts Sergey Volkov and Mikhail Kornienko to review procedures and hardware they would use in the event of a medical emergency in space.

Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren worked on plumbing tasks before videotaping crew activities with an IMAX camera. Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui conducted a variety of life science experiments. Finally, cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko worked maintenance on Russian hardware before moving on to Russian science.

Ongoing Research for Crew as Trio Prepares for Friday Landing

Hurricane Jimena
ISS044E078230 (08/30/2015) — Hurricane Jimena was a category 3 storm and was about 1,000 miles east of Hawaii, traveling at a rate of 10 mph when this image was captured by the International Space Station on August 30, 2015.

The nine-member International Space Station crew participated in a wide variety of advanced microgravity science throughout the orbital laboratory. Three of those crew members are also getting ready to return to Earth at the end of the week.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who is now the station commander, worked in the Japanese Kibo laboratory to set up gear that will deploy two small satellites outside the lab module next week. Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren spent the afternoon troubleshooting the humanoid Robonaut 2 which could assist future crews with routine or dangerous tasks.

The homebound trio including Gennady Padalka, the world’s most experienced orbital crew member, and first time space visitors Andreas Mogensen and Aidyn Aimbetov are getting ready to leave the space station Friday evening. They will undock in the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft Friday at 5:29 p.m. EDT and land in Kazakhstan just three-and-a-half hours later.

Padalka continued ongoing Russian science studying plasma physics while Mogensen, from the European Space Agency, worked in the Columbus lab module on exercise gear. Aimbetov, representing Kazakhstan, participated in various tasks for his space agency, Kazcosmos.

Nine-Passenger Station Increases Altitude for Future Russian Vehicles

Nine-Member Space Station Crew
The nine-member space station crew takes questions from journalists around the world. Credit: NASA TV

Cosmonaut Gennady Padalka handed command of the International Space Station to astronaut Scott Kelly Saturday. The following day a docked Russian resupply ship fired its engines raising the orbital laboratory’s altitude to prepare for upcoming Soyuz and Progress missions.

Visiting crew members Andreas Mogensen and Aidyn Aimbetov joined Padalka for a Soyuz descent drill as they prepare for Friday evening’s landing inside the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft. When Padalka lands he will have accumulated 879 days in space over five missions, four on the space station and one on Russia’s Mir, a world record. This is the first mission for Mogensen and Aimbetov.

Meanwhile, the international crew of nine has been conducting advanced microgravity science to benefit life on Earth and future crews. NASA astronauts Kelly and Kjell Lindgren tested the humanoid Robonaut. Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui checked out rodent research gear. New Flight Engineer Sergey Volkov worked with Mogensen on the Muscle Atrophy Research Exercise System.

International Crew of Nine In Space Working on the Orbital Laboratory

Nine Space Station Crew Members
An international crew of nine from the U.S.. Russia, Japan, Denmark and Kazakhstan will work together on the orbital laboratory until Sept. 11. Credit: NASA TV

Soyuz crew members Sergey Volkov of Roscosmos, Andreas Mogensen of ESA (European Space Agency) and Aidyn Aimbetov of the Kazakh Space Agency joined their Expedition 44 crewmates when the hatches between the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft and the International Space Station officially opened at 6:15 a.m. EDT. Expedition 44 Commander Gennady Padalka of Roscosmos, as well as Flight Engineers Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren of NASA, Flight Engineers Oleg Kononenko and Mikhail Kornienko of Roscosmos, and Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) welcomed the new crew members aboard their orbital home, marking the first time since 2013 that nine people have been aboard the orbiting laboratory.

The crew will support several hundred experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science — research that impacts life on Earth.

The trip enables Roscosmos to rotate a crew member and a Soyuz spacecraft. Volkov will remain aboard the station for the next six months, returning in March 2016 with one-year mission crew members Kelly and Kornienko in the Soyuz TMA-18M. Padalka, who launched in March with Kelly and Kornienko in the Soyuz TMA-16M, will return to Earth in that spacecraft on Sept. 11 with Mogensen and Aimbetov, leaving Kelly in command of Expedition 45. Lindgren, Kononenko and Yui will remain aboard the station until late December. Each Soyuz remains in orbit for about six months.

You can follow the crew’s activities in space on social media. Follow space station activities via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Follow Twitter updates from Kjell Lindgren, Kimiya Yui, Andreas Mogensen, Sergey Volkov, and Scott Kelly, and follow Kelly on Instagram.

To join the online conversation about the International Space Station on Twitter, follow the hashtag #ISS. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/connect.

Soyuz Crew Docks Delivering New Science to Station

Sept. 4, 2015: International Space Station Configuration
Sept. 4, 2015: International Space Station Configuration. The Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft is docked to the Poisk mini-research module. The Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft is docked to the Zvezda service module. The ISS Progress 60 spacecraft is docked to the Pirs docking compartment. The Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft is docked to the Rassvet mini-research module. Japan’s “Kounotori” HTV-5 is berthed to the Harmony module.

The Soyuz TMA-18M vehicle docked to the International Space Station’s Poisk module at 3:39 a.m. EDT, above eastern Kazakhstan.

Aboard the space station, Expedition 44 Commander Gennady Padalka of Roscosmos, as well as Flight Engineers Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren of NASA, Flight Engineers Oleg Kononenko and Mikhail Kornienko of Roscosmos, and Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will welcome Soyuz crew members Sergey Volkov of Roscosmos, Andreas Mogensen of ESA (European Space Agency) and Aidyn Aimbetov of the Kazakh Space Agency when the hatches between the two spacecraft are opened.

Watch the hatch opening and welcome ceremony live on NASA TV beginning at 5:45 a.m.: https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv.

This Soyuz flight carries with it equipment to be used in research investigations planned aboard the orbiting laboratory. One item, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Skinsuit, will help astronauts counteract potential back problems in microgravity. Some astronauts’ spines have been shown to lengthen as much as 7 cm in weightlessness, which can cause pain. The Skinsuit resembles overalls that are specially designed to simulate gravitational forces from Earth to constrict the body from shoulders to feet. ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen will test the suit for the first time in space as part of his space station mission.

European Astronaut Thomas Pesquet Tests Skinsuit
European astronaut Thomas Pesquet tested his Skinsuit on a parabolic flight in March. European astronaut Andreas Mogensen will be the first astronaut to evaluate the Skinsuit in space. The suits need to fit tightly but comfortable, while creating the right amount of force in the right places. Credit: CNES/Novespace, 2014

Testing this clothing item in space may help astronauts with any back pain they experience on long-duration missions. Further, the Skinsuit has potential use for older adults with spine issues and people suffering from low-back pain on Earth. It also could be used as a support item for people with conditions like cerebral palsy, a disorder affecting movement, muscle tone and/or posture.

Several investigations aboard the space station employ dosimeters to gather information about space radiation to manage exposure and provide protection to crew members, and more dosimeters are traveling to the station on this Soyuz. The Area Passive Dosimeter for Life-Science Experiments in Space (Area PADLES) investigation helps researchers collect data to design radiation monitoring equipment for astronauts. This knowledge may improve design for spacecraft structures that shield internal occupants from radiation. Scientists also may use the data to develop protection devices for people who work in medical or industrial areas with potential radiation exposure.

NASA TV Covering Soyuz Docking Live

A Soyuz Spacecraft is Seen Docking
A Soyuz spacecraft is seen docking in March 2014 during Expedition 39.

Aboard their Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft, Sergey Volkov of Roscosmos, Andreas Mogensen of ESA (European Space Agency) and Aidyn Aimbetov of the Kazakh Space Agency are scheduled to dock at 3:42 a.m. EDT to the International Space Station. NASA Television coverage of the docking can also be seen online at: https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv.

NASA TV will then resume at 5:45 a.m. to cover hatch opening between the two spacecraft as well as the welcome ceremony.

The three will join Expedition 44 Flight Engineers Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren of NASA, Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineers Oleg Kononenko and Mikhail Kornienko of Roscosmos, and Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). With their arrival to the station on Friday, Sept. 4, nine people will be aboard the orbiting laboratory for the first time since 2013.

To join the online conversation about the International Space Station on Twitter, follow the hashtag #ISS. 

Station Crew Works Life Science Before New Crew Arrives

NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgre
NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren replaces items inside the Multi-user Droplet Combustion Apparatus found inside the station’s Combustion Integrated Rack

The six Expedition 44 crew members worked on a wide variety space research Thursday. They will welcome three extra crew members early Friday morning temporarily increasing the International Space Station’s population to nine residents.

The International Space Station’s newest astronauts, Kimiya Yui and Kjell Lindgren, worked on life science. Yui installed a new Mouse Habitat Unit in the Kibo laboratory. The mice will be delivered on a future cargo mission. Lindgren took body measurements before exploring the physics of a cup for drinking in space.

A veteran cosmonaut and two first time crew mates are on their way to the space station to swap spaceships. Soyuz Commander Sergey Volkov will dock the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft to the Poisk module Friday at 3:42 a.m. EDT. Volkov will stay in space until March. His fellow crew members Andreas Mogensen from Denmark and Aidyn Aimbetov from Kazakhstan will return to Earth Sept. 11 with station Commander Gennady Padalka inside the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft.

Crew Begins Two Day Trip to Orbital Laboratory

Soyuz TMA-18M Crew Members
Soyuz TMA-18M crew members get ready to board their rocket before launching early Wednesday. From top are Flight Engineers Andreas Mogensen and Aidyn Aimbetov and Soyuz Commander Sergey Volkov. Credit: European Space Agency

Three crew members are orbiting Earth getting ready to dock to the International Space Station early Friday in their Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft. Meanwhile, the six residents on the orbital laboratory are exploring human research and maintaining life support systems.

Soyuz Commander Sergey Volkov and first-time space flyers Andreas Mogensen from Denmark and Aidyn Aimbetov from Kazakhstan launched today at 12:37 a.m. EDT beginning a two-day trip to the space station’s Poisk module. Volkov will stay in space till March. Mogensen and Aimbetov will return home Sept. 11 with record-setting cosmonaut Gennady Padalka in the older Soyuz TMA-16M spaceship.

Long-term microgravity research is the station’s primary mission as scientists and astronauts learn to live in space for extended periods. A pair of One-Year Crew members, Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko, studied how microgravity affects a crew member’s ability to perform specific tasks as well as fatigue due to disruption of a normal sunrise/sunset schedule.

Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui worked on science hardware as he reconfigured the Cell Biology Experiment Facility inside the Kibo laboratory module. NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren participated in an experiment exploring techniques for monitoring a crew member’s pulmonary system.